In a sharp blow to the Western alliance, the hawkish French government of Nicolas Sarkozy announced it would withdraw all 3,500 troops from Afghanistan beginning in 2011. (CSM, October 28)
The Sarkozy withdrawal announcement came after a taped threat from Osama bin Laden to pull out of Afghanistan and stop oppressing Muslims in France.
The Canadian government, led by the neo-con ally Stephen Harper, is planning to withdraw its 2,800 combat troops by December 2011. Poland will yank its 2,600 troops by 2012, the same year Swenden plans a reduction of its 600 troops. Following the deaths of four of their nation's soldiers in a convoy attack, Italy announced that its 3,400 troops will leave Afghanistan by 2014. The Netherlands withdrew all its 1,950 troops this year.
The United Kingdom, while for now keeping its special forces in Afghanistan, is floating a withdrawal deadline to begin next year, one which would see all of its combat troops removed by 2015.
In short, while the US lacks an exit strategy, its foremost allies are heading for the exits.